ISLAMABAD/MIRPUR - The fault lines have started to put cracks in the revived Pak-India peace process with the fresh exchange of hostile statements between the military chiefs from the two sides, days after the South Asian neighbours had come together to do away with bitter past and usher in an era of cordiality.
Along with it came the reigniting of the Line of Control (LoC) as Pakistani officials on Friday said a teen was martyred and five other civilians, including two women, were grievously injured in unprovoked firing by Indian troops from across the de facto border on various forward villages in Nikayal and Tattapani sectors in Kotli district of AJK.
"Unfortunate, unfounded and provocative," was the reaction from Pakistan's Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani in response to recent remarks from his Indian counterpart against Pakistan's military. Kayani was addressing a group of officers at the General Headquarters (GHQ), a media release said Friday.
Indian Army Chief General Bikram Singh on Tuesday had accused Pakistan Army of infiltrating terrorists across the LoC, the de facto border dividing Pakistan-controlled part of Kashmir from the India-occupied part. In a television interview, Singh alleged Pakistan's military was aiding and abetting 30-40 militants in the valley, holding them responsible for the recent attacks.
General Kayani, in response, offered a strong-worded rebuttal. "Rather than hurling such baseless accusations, India would be well advised to respond positively to Pakistan's suggestion for holding joint or impartial investigation into the LoC incidents, preferably by the United Nations."
"Pakistan is also concerned about the continued violations of the LoC. The ceasefire was proposed by Pakistan and agreed to by the two countries in 2003," Kayani, who plans to finally say goodbye to the barracks on November 29, his retirement date, said. Pakistan Army, according to the general, was "exercising restraint but the same should in no way be used as a pretext for levelling such baseless allegations that vitiate prospects of regional peace."
In a landmark development just a few days earlier, Nawaz Sharif and Manmohan Singh, the prime ministers of Pakistan and India, had met in New York on September 29 on the sidelines of a UN General Assembly session to agree continuing the peace initiatives to improve their relationship on multiple levels. The meeting came as a remarkable breakthrough in melting the ice of hostility that had lately prevailed. A few hours’ before the PM's meet-up, Indian Foreign Minister Salman Khursheed had accused ISI of sabotaging Nawaz's efforts to make peace with India. The ISI-backed non-state actors were involved in the recent violence at the LoC, he had categorically alleged.
Kotli Deputy Commissioner Masoodur Rehman told The Nation that since early Friday the Indians, without any provocation, were shelling at the locals of Rud Katthar, Sunbal Dabsi, Dhairee and some other forward villages in Nikayal and Tattapani sectors of Azad Kashmir.
"The unprovoked Indian firing resulted in the martyrdom of an 11 years old boy, Kashee son of Mustafa, and injuries to five others: Sain (90), son of Allah Ditta, at Rud Kathaar village; M Ijaz, son of Noor M; Mst Nazir Begam (50); and Mst Naheed (25), d/o Shareef, at Sunbal Dabsi and Dhairee in Nikayal sector respectively", Rehman said.
The injured were taken to District Hospital Kotli where condition of three of them was stated to be critical, according to the deputy commissioner. India kept firing intermittently at the border villages close the whole day and it was continuing when last reports came in,” the official said.